Professionals support for bushfire recovery harvesting

Friday 8 May 2020

 
The organisations representing Australian forest land managers and scientists, the Institute of Foresters Australia and Australian Forest Growers (IFA/AFG) has reaffirmed its support of bushfire recovery harvesting subject to strict controls. Earlier this year, the Institute of Foresters Australia released a position paper on bushfire recovery harvesting which stated a blanket no to recovery harvesting operations was too simplistic and a one size fits all approach should not be adopted.

IFA/AFG President, Bob Gordon said a systematic plan that takes into consideration a range of matters such as protecting the diversity of the forest environment, local community needs and economic values needs to be applied when considering bushfire recovery harvesting. “A planned approach would ensure that not only is the environment best protected and biodiversity is preserved, but also the local communities dependent on these forests for jobs during the bush fire recovery period can continue,” Mr Gordon said.

The comments come in the wake of criticisms expressed by the environment movement over VicForests resuming harvesting in fire-damaged forest burnt during the catastrophic summer fires. Mr Gordon said the criticisms were based on “selective science” that was more part of a broader campaign to end native forest harvesting than anything else and that salvage harvesting could occur provided an appropriate plan was implemented.

“Firstly, recovery bushfire harvesting should only occur in forests earmarked for future forestry production,” Mr Gordon said. “Secondly, a plan should be developed quickly in each individual site to ensure biodiversity, soil, water and culture heritage are protected. For native forests in particular, planners and managers need to give attention to retaining diversity across the forest through the retention of large hollow-bearing habitat such as trees to support recovering populations of animals, birds as well as other flora and fauna”.

“In addition, practices in native forests should include minimal physical site disturbance to reduce disruption to regeneration of a range of flora species. Agencies with interest in land management should be given an opportunity for input as well as local government and regional communities, all of which should be subject to independent audit by environmental regulators”.

Mr Gordon pointed to a paper by respected expert forest scientists Prof. Kevin Tolhurst of Melbourne University and Prof. Jerry Vanclay of Southern Cross University published in March which said some ecologists and conservationists opposed to timber harvesting were using bushfire disasters to stop native forest harvesting.

“The paper goes on to state the case for stopping post bushfire harvesting was based on ‘opinion, beliefs and selective science’,” Mr Gordon said.

Source: The Institute of Foresters Australia and Australian Forest Growers

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